On Building a Mind Palace

Last week I wrote in length about my favorite show on TV: Sherlock. My obsession with the detective is not quite over, as today’s article looks at what I learned from the detective. I also have a Youtube video on the Arthur Conan Doyle stories planned before I finally accept the fact that Sherlock is back on a hiatus of undetermined length.

What I learned about on Sherlock and what I found endlessly fascinating is a memory technique Sherlock Holmes uses when he tries to remember something crucially important hidden somewhere in the depths of his mind. On the show, it is called “Mind Palace”, while the term used on Wikipedia is “Method of Loci”. The word Loci does not have anything to do with the tumblr/Internet icon Loki played by Tom Hiddleston in the Marvel universe movies, who coincendentally shares a lot of the fans of Benedict Cumberbatch. Instead, it derives from the Latin word for location. The method is not only used on the show, but also by various memory contest champions.

I would love to show you show how Mr. Holmes uses his Mind Palace as I find them the most interesting and visually stunning scenes on the show, but I can’t do it without spoiling the show for anyone. Feel free to search for them at your own risk.

So, how exactly does the method of loci work? In short, you memorize the setting of a specific location. When you’re clear on how your mind palace (or whatever you choose your location to be) looks like, you can start associating things you want to commit to your long-term memory with these locations. Should you need to retrieve the information, you can visualize walking through your mind palace to the specific spot and memory.

Obviously, I’m not a trained specialist. Thankfully, I’m not a hyperintelligent detective with possession of state secrets, so I can share a bit of the process I’ve been going through the last days to design my memory palace.

I started out with imagining a forest. First, I tried to bind memories, names and faces to branches of trees, which would then have been interwoven with each other. Soon enough I discovered that my knowledge of trees was limited and I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. As a device for remembering things, it would have failed almost immediately.

The second idea I had worked a lot better and serves as the basis for my mind palace (even though the palace is more of a shack right now). I started out with imagining a classroom with an infinite amount of rows. Then I started placing acquaintances at the desks. People I meet on a regular basis are in the first few rows, as I need access to that information regularly. People I see once in a while are seated a bit further back. Then I stuff their desks with information I’d like to know about them such as maybe their favorite book or movie.

After I starting filling up the classroom (which will probably take the longest to fill), I decided to expand the school by imagining different areas. Since I love movies, I thought of the cinema Metropol in Zurich and started placing movie posters at the walls. For instance, right next to the entrance is the poster of Gravity and some of the key info I remembered from seeing it and its IMDB page. Alfonso Cuaron directs and writes, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star, Ed Harris provides the voice and as a fun fact that the movie is exactly as long as the ISS takes to circle the Earth.

I did a similar thing formy sports interests, even though I’m not as far with that yet. For sports, I go back to the football pitch of my old high school and picture the sports stars sitting on the bleachers. It hasn’t worked perfectly yet, but I’m working on refining the details and on expanding my capacity for memories.

Obviously, I’ve just started to use this technique and have filled my locations with superficial knowledge that I’ve read or heard fairly recently. In the future however I’m sure I’ll be able to commit more experiences and facts to my long-term memory in a clearer and more efficient way.

If you have any comments or questions, please let me know in the comments or on Twitter! As always, please like, share and subscribe. See you on Thursday.

Sincerely yours,


Sherlock is the best Show on TV

This Sunday, BBC One aired the third season finale of their excellent series Sherlock. I was lucky to catch the episode live. And I’m very glad I did. I am not going to spoil the third season for anyone and will instead talk about why I think everyone should watch the show.

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Shows for Short Days

With the days growing shorter and colder, winter invites everyone to cozy up at home and to seek relaxation in form of a good TV show.

Television has enjoyed a kind of Golden Age with many great movie actors giving the small screen a chance. Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire, Kevin Spacey in House of Cards or Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock have brought a whole new quality of acting to TV. I’ve talked about some of my favorite series before, so I wanted to add the shows I’m currently watching to that list.

Breaking Bad

The first show I’m catching up on is AMC’s Breaking Bad. I’ve seen parts of the first season and have loved it so far. Bryan Cranston, whom I loved on the comedy “Malcolm in the Middle” plays Walter White, a High School chemistry teacher diagnosed with cancer. In order to ensure his family doesn’t suffer financially, he turns to his old student, Jesse Pinkman and begins to cook Meth. The show finished its five-season run about one month ago and has been one of the most critically acclaimed series around. Even after seeing only a small fraction of Breaking Bad, I can tell why it was so adored. The story is gripping, the writing feels real and the acting is special. I can’t wait to see more episodes.

The next show I enjoy is far more cheerful than the bleak Breaking Bad.

New Girl

New Girl is one of the pleasant surprises for me. I remember watching the first few episodes and being annoyed by the quirkiness of Zooey Deschanel. Normally a big fan of the actress, I felt she was overdoing it at the beginning of the show. But I recently found myself giving New Girl another chance and I haven’t regretted it. Ms. Deschanel tones down the awkwardness of her character to acceptable levels, while Max Greenfield as Schmidt and Jake Johnson as Nick continue to steal the show. Coupled with strong guest stars such as the stunning Olivia Munn or Carla Gugino, the show hits its stride at the end of the first season. It’s funny and relatable. I’ve enjoyed many of the storylines on the show like Nick planning on getting back together with his ex-girlfriend or Schmidt trying to win back his model ex-girlfriend Cece.


Sherlock, based on the novels by Arthur Conan Doyle, is the show that has impressed me most in the last few years. With the third season coming up in a few weeks (January), you should definitely catch up on the famous British detective. After all, there are only six 90-minute episodes. The show, which runs on BBC, features the fantastic Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek) and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit) as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. It transports their cases to the modern world. Seeing Mr. Holmes work with modern technology and laboratories is fascinating and intriguing. The cases are extremely gripping and well written. But without wanting to spoil too much, the highlight of the series so far have been the confrontations with his famous antagonists, Ms. Irene Adler and Prof. Jim Moriarty. Two more months remain until season three arrives!

Which shows are you watching currently? And what should I definitely check out?

Thank you very much for reading, see you on Friday with the next chapter in my story.

Sincerely yours,